Being the sports enthusiast that I am, I love this time of year. March Madness is in full swing and down to the Final Four. And what madness this year’s tournament has delivered so far. Exciting opening rounds, Sweet Sixteen and Elight Eight games. A decision here or there has decided great games, and amazing execution has followed. We’ve seen surprise after surprise of upsets of favored teams by the upstarts — all with the common goal of cutting down that net.
While surprises, upsets, and last-minute execution shifts may make for thrilling college basketball games and entertainment, they’re not part of a winning strategy for your market messaging and customer engagement, which drive the growth that your CEO expects.
In our discussions with CMOs and marketing leaders across industries and business models, we find that many senior marketing executives still struggle with bringing a disciplined approach to the creation and execution of messaging. Rather, we see messages developed in an ad hoc way to solve the need of the moment, giving little thought to alignment from the customer’s view across touchpoints.
I’m not alone. Creating a superior and differentiated customer experience is a core strategy for most companies — a pillar of who you want to be. It’s likely in your mission statement, annual report, 10-K, strategy deck, or company culture declaration. In a Forrester survey, “improving the customer experience” was tied with “growing revenue” as the No. 1 business priority over the coming year. Great CX is the big ambition in the sky.
For many, it remains an ambition.
The feedback I get from executives is consistent with my own thinking and Forrester’s body of research in this area. CX can’t be an attitude, tagline, or one-time corporate initiative. It has to be a different way of doing business, a new kind of operating model.
That means addressing the complex areas like people, process, and culture.
At Forrester, I keep returning to the basics to help us take simple but important steps forward. Here are five observations from the frontlines:
Change your perspective. We have a sense of how customers are supposed to traverse different touchpoints and a sense of the experiences we want them to have. But that’s not the starting point. CX is about the customers, on their terms and in their voice. Sounds basic, but that fundamental reorientation requires a surprising level of tenacity and discipline.
Fred Rogers touched the hearts of millions of children through his work in creating and hosting one of the most beloved educational television programs — Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Throughout its run, the show built a strong brand that was recognized as a leader in educating millions of young children. When public funds for the program became scarce, Mister Rogers stood before the US Senate Subcommittee on Communications to passionately defend the educational mission of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The goose-bumps-producing testimony compelled one of the most impatient subcommittee chairmen to approve $20 million in funding for the show.
Mister Rogers was able to accomplish this inspiring feat by building a strong brand for his show and using that brand to accomplish a seemingly impossible task — creating a community of devoted fans that Congress was compelled to keep alive and growing.
As our friendly neighbor Mister Rogers showed us, it’s possible to build a strong lasting brand by charming a community of involved supporters.
CMOs, it’s time for you to take a lesson from Mister Rogers by rallying and engaging your entire organization to reach the full potential of your brand.
As I set out to answer that question, I uncovered a topic that is probably one of the most hotly debated topics in the industry. People are passionate – on the agency side, on the finance side, on the procurement side, and on the marketer side. Everyone has an opinion.
So, instead of doing a straightforward report on how to structure performance-based compensation, I took a step back to dive into whether performance-based compensation is actually achieving the desired results – which is better performance from agencies.
I found that:
Performance-based compensation, as it is most commonly structured and applied, is being used as a stand-in solution for a much larger issue – the fact that CMOs are having a very hard time measuring and explaining the impact of their agencies' work on ultimate business outcomes.
Adding financial incentives to agency contracts gives organizations a way to measure the impact of agency work and assign that impact a monetary value.
These organizations are not getting better work from agencies because of this. And by using performance-based compensation as a motivator, they are missing an opportunity to truly motivate their agencies.
Windows 10 comes with holographic computing built into it. And to prove that it’s serious about holography, the company announced Microsoft HoloLens, a headset that lets people interact with holograms in the real world.
I know what you’re thinking. Microsoft has a credibility problem when it comes to launches of future tech. Remember that this is the company that tried to launch touch-based tablet computing in 2000. Microsoft launched a smartwatch years before anybody else that also came to naught. I’ll spare you a longer list of Microsoft’s mislaunches. It all adds up to a fair bit of earned skepticism. Surely Microsoft can’t be expected to create the computing interface that will do to graphical user interfaces what the mouse did to the text-based user interface.
Late last night, Sony revealed that it would pull The Interview from its release schedule. This decision was made in response to the step taken by the major theater chains, all agreeing that they would not screen the movie on its release day. The unprecedented decision is causing consternation among entertainment media types who feel that Sony has put the right of free speech in jeopardy. That's a conversation worth having, and I'm glad it's happening. But there is an entirely new question that this situation brings into dramatic relief, one that didn't exist before and one that our premeditations won't help us resolve. The question is this:
Can companies participate in cyber war?
Up until now, companies have prepared to defend themselves against cyber attacks as one-off nuisances. Such attacks are now so common that they no longer make the news. Even massive breaches where millions of customer data points are compromised tend to give us pause for only a few moments, perhaps a few days, and then we move on. But what Sony experienced was not just a security breach. This hack was a declaration of cyber war intended to bring Sony to its digital knees: a low-cost digitally effective cyber war that puts none of the hackers' assets in harm's way. And given yesterday's announcement, it appears to have worked.
I'm packing to leave Paris and it's a hard town to leave. Not only because I managed to catch a glimpse of a Paris sunset last night from the top of Notre Dame, but because I'm leaving LeWeb Paris 2014 while it's still in full swing. There's no denying LeWeb is one of the most invigorating events I've attended. Highlights in the first two days included a candid discussion on Uber with celebrity venture capitalist Fred Wilson and amazing comments from Web founder Tim Berners-Lee on everything from robots to net neutrality to Europe's "right to be forgottten" laws. Most invigorating for me personally was the day one session on wearables. LeWeb invited me to curate this hour-long track as part of its new format, tackling multiple themes in short bursts over several days. Curation required pulling together experts on the topic which was both simple and difficult. Simple because there are some great ones to choose from, difficult because I would have had 10 people on stage if I could have managed it. But that's where the hard task of curation comes in.
This research reminded us that "innovation agency" is a label that Forrester assigned to agencies with specific aptitudes. Most agencies don't have neatly packaged innovation offerings. But those we reviewed do offer strategy, change management, customer experience, and design and development services — capabilities that are core to enabling digital business innovation. Since CMOs may not find a standard blueprint for an innovation agency, this wave provides guidance as you review potential innovation agency partners.
In addition to the report, please make sure to download the interactive scorecard tool to build your custom wave and gain a more in depth look at each agency.
I’d like to extend a huge thank you to all of the agencies that participated. The teams that I worked with are all so talented and put in a lot of time and effort, which I appreciate.
A new pneumonia virus first infected a few people in China in November 2002. A scant seven months later, the virus known as SARS had infected more than 8,000 people in 26 countries and caused 774 deaths. The international medical community mobilized: Within one short month, it discovered the virus that caused SARS, completed its genetic sequencing, outlined its modes of transmission, and communicated guidance for managing the outbreak.
How did this happen so fast? The power of collaboration. A network of 11 laboratories in nine countries came together and collaborated to identify the cause of SARS and how best to combat it. They shared research in near real time, empowering each lab to build on the work of the others. Compare the success of this collaborative effort to the three years it took to discover that HIV led to AIDS as well as the slow movement to solve our current Ebola crisis. Clearly, collaboration when mobilized can have a huge, positive impact on the world in which we live, work, and play.
Now, just because CMOs and CIOs are not curing world hunger or an infectious disease, that does not mean they can choose to ignore the power of collaboration. In fact, as CMOs and CIOs, you too need to be collaboration superstars in order to prosper in the age of the customer.